As of Monday, February 17, teams can begin slapping the franchise tag on a player, but it is to their advantage to wait until the last minute to see if they can negotiate a long-term deal first. The deadline to use the franchise tag is before 4:00 PM on March 4, and it can only be used on one player per team.
A few days ago, we broke down the advantages and disadvantages of using the franchise tag on C Alex Mack or SS T.J. Ward, assuming that neither player wanted to agree to a long-term deal. In other words, if both players wanted to test free agency, who would we want to hold hostage for at least another year? I picked Mack, but the consensus from fans was that Ward should be locked up:
Mack received 28% of the vote, while Ward received 62% of the votes. 10% of the votes went to "neither," which doesn't make sense really, given all of the cap space the team has.